As Vietnam’s second-largest city, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), also known by its colonial name Saigon, is decidedly cosmopolitan in nature. But that’s not to say that there are no elements of traditional Vietnamese culture. And what better way to explore it than through the many temples scattered across the city? We’ve put together a list of the most interesting temples to visit in Ho Chi Minh City.
Thien Hau Pagoda, Quan 5
Built by Chinese immigrants in the 18th century, the Thien Hau Pagoda is dedicated to a sea goddess who is called upon in troubled times. It follows the traditional Chinese layout for temples, and this is also apparent in the colourful embellishments that aren’t typically seen in Vietnamese architecture.
Address: 710 Đ. Nguyễn Trãi, Phường 11, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
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Timings: 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Vinh Ngheim Buddhist Temple, Quan 3
Perched on the banks of the Nhieu Loc Canal, this sprawling temple is among the newest in Vietnam, unique in capturing traditional design with modern building materials. The complex houses a handful of shrines and prayer rooms, strung together by wide walking paths. There’s also a restaurant on the grounds, so plan to drop by around lunchtime to make the most of your trip.
Address: 339 Đ. Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Phường 7, Quận 3, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
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Timings: Open 24x7
Jade Emperor Pagoda, Quan 1
This century-old Taoist temple is instantly recognisable from the street by its brick-red facade, and the colour doesn’t stop there. The inside holds more beautifully designed shrines and prayer spaces that bring together tranquillity and brightness beautifully. Although it might require some looking, don’t miss their turtle pond, tucked away to one side.
Address: 73 Đ. Mai Thị Lựu, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
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Timings: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Giac Lam Buddhist Temple, Tan Binh
Built in 1744, the Giac Lam Pagoda is a stunning seven-storey masterpiece of traditional Vietnamese architecture. It is set in a wide garden, dotted with greenery, gazebos, and even small waterfall ponds that make for a serene yet vibrant atmosphere.
Address: 565 Lạc Long Quân, Phường 10, Tân Bình, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
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Timings: 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Xa Loi Pagoda, Quan 3
With a seven-storey pagoda and a four-storey-high statue of the Buddha, this temple is certainly a stunning sight to behold. Its sometimes-tumultuous history has nevertheless preserved the charm of the space, including the polished stone walkway scattered with large potted plants. Visit after sunset to enjoy the view as the statue and gardens are lit up.
Address: 89 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, Võ Thị Sáu, Quận 3, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
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Timings: 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Quan Am Pagoda, Quan 5
Dedicated to the Bodhisattva Quan Am, this 19th-century temple is a vivid medley of traditional reds and yellows from the entry archway to the detailed painted dragons that decorate the pillars. The colours are offset by the considerable grounds that feature multiple courtyards and a tranquil fishpond.
Address: 12 Đ. Lão Tử, Phường 11, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
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Timings: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Phung Son Buddhist Temple, Quan 11
Although this temple is on the smaller side compared to others found in HCMC, it’s no less notable. Originally set to be moved to a different site, mishaps with the packing and transport were taken as omens to stay put. Along with a soaring tree as its centrepiece, it also features collections of important Buddhist artefacts and gilded statues that are a delight to peruse.
Address: Đường Đ. 3 Tháng 2, Phường 2, Quận 11, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
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Timings: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Sanshan Hokkien Temple (Tam Son Hoi Quan), Quan 5
Named after the Chinese Lords of Three Mountains, or Sanshan, this temple is popular with locals - especially as a destination for couples looking forward to having children. Built by Hokkien immigrants in the 19th century, it features both Chinese and Vietnamese architectural elements combined in an elegant pastiche.
Address: 118 Triệu Quang Phục, Phường 11, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
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Timings: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Buu Long Buddhist Temple, Quan 9
With its gorgeous white and gold colour scheme and massive scale, the Buu Long Temple is an absolute must-visit for architecture buffs. Sprawling gardens and wide ponds dotted with fountains surround the main building, inviting visitors to wander through the tranquil grounds. There’s also a small restaurant serving simple vegetarian fare.
Address: 81 Nguyễn Xiển, Long Bình, Quận 9, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
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Timings: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Ten Thousand Buddha Temple, Quan 5
True to its name, the Ten Thousand Buddha Temple does indeed feature thousands of statues scattered across its structure although the three primary idols are located in a prayer room near the front. Being relatively unknown to non-locals, there’s usually very little crowd and visitors are free to watch the morning prayer ceremonies.
Address: 66/14 Nghĩa Thục, Phường 5, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
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Timings: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Saigon Cao Dai Temple, Quan 5
Dedicated to the indigenous religion of Caodaism, this temple was built on the bones of a French Colonial guest house and continues to retain some of its design elements. The temple is spread across three floors, each with a dedicated purpose, from living quarters to bell towers. If you can, drop by around noon to watch devotees at mass and take in the soothing sounds of prayer.
Address: 891 Đ. Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường 1, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
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Timings: Open 24/7
Mariamman Temple, Quan 1
Unlike others on this list, the Mariamman Temple belongs to the Hindu faith and was built by Tamil immigrants in the late 19th century. Designed in the classical South Indian style of the time, it nevertheless incorporates Vietnamese influences as can be seen in various ornamental elements.
Address: 45 Trương Định, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
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Timings: 7 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Sunday